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Chocolate - Are You Allergic to It Or The Chemicals Inside It?

June 06, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 165

The makers of chocolate products contend that people do not have allergies to their product. The fact is we don't eat pure chocolate, which is quite bitter. What we eat is a mixture of chocolate processed with other foods, including sugar, milk and eggs. In the case of most cheap chocolate candy bars, you're also eating hydrogenated oils, so read the label. If someone you know is allergic to chocolate, chances are it is not a figment of his or her imagination.

Food is chemistry. Chocolate alone has over 380 different chemicals in its makeup. Add to that the processing that it goes through and the unknown items that are in the containers (nuts, shell fish, etc.), where processing, shipping and fermenting occur, and it becomes much more difficult to pin down what may cause an allergic reaction. Likewise, chocolate is high in fat and fat can become rancid as it ages.

There is a consistent misunderstanding that chocolate contains caffeine. It does not. What it does have is theobromine, which is a mild stimulant related to caffeine. It doesn't have the same impact on the nervous system. This stimulant, which results in a boost to the brain, is what causes the problem in dogs and cats. It is also true that many small children cannot process or digest this chemical.

Getting a straight answer about food content isn't a new problem. Early makers of chocolate got by with some extreme licenses. In nineteenth century England, chocolate makers put ground up bricks into their formula to add color. This led to England's first food regulations. Up until a while ago Europeans could claim a piece of candy was chocolate even if it contained just 1% cacao (bean solids from the plant). Now the trend is to broadcast in bold print the amount of cacao in the product. If it is not "announced" on the package, then it has to have (and probably does have) the minimum of 10% cacao (defined as both cocoa solids and cocoa butter) in order for it to be called chocolate in the United States. For you that means it has 90% other stuff that may or may not cause allergies.

Cacao (pronounced ka-kow) is not a misspelling of cocoa. Cocoa is just the English result of mispronouncing and misspelling the beans produced by the Theobroma cacao tree. The Spanish first heard of it from the Aztecs in the New World. Although it is still grown from Mexico to Peru in South America, the majority (70%) comes from Africa.

The good news about dark chocolate is that the larger the cacao content, the smaller the sugar and other content. So a 70% cacao bar has exactly that, 70% chocolate and 30% other, which is most likely sugar. (If there are more than five ingredients, you may be in trouble.) It is this increased amount of cacao that makes dark chocolate healthier than milk chocolate. The fat content, like nuts, has no cholesterol. There appears to be cardiovascular benefits to large doses of cacao, but the scientists are still studying this.

Cheaper chocolate means more processing and more additives. To avoid additives, you will spend a little more money, but you won't need to eat as much. Eating a small portion of something really good also means that you don't need large quantities of it. Look for a nice gloss on your chocolate, a distinct aroma and a crisp snap when you break it. Do not refrigerate it and eat it at room temperature.

Chocolate is considered an antioxidant. One of its chemicals, phenylethylamine, releases endorphins in the brain. Of course, you can be more organic and just fall in love and get the same effect. And as far as antioxidants are concerned, blueberries without any fat or sugar are still a better, if less orgasmic, choice.

Copyright 2012 by Linda K. Murdock, the author of A Busy Cook's Guide to Flavor-Packed Cookies & Bars. This book has a cookie and bar recipe for each of 63 flavors, including chocolate and carob recipes (for those allergic to chocolate) and more unusual flavors, such as eggnog and curry pecan. Smaller batches, easy instructions and readily available ingredients attract busy bakers, who prefer more flavor and less sugar in their cookies. To learn more go to

Source: EzineArticles
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Chemical Content In Chocolate


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